Despite discovering some troubling news midway through the contest, the Celtics were able to outlast the Miami Heat in Ray Allen's return to Boston.
Paul Pierce notched a triple-double and put his team ahead for good with a jumper late in double-overtime, as the Celtics defeated the Heat, 100-98, at TD Garden.
Mired in an nine-game shooting slump, Pierce broke out on Sunday with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for Boston, which played without All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo and will do so for an extended period of time.
Rondo, who injured his knee in a double-overtime loss to Atlanta on Friday, was scratched just prior to start of the contest and was sent to a local hospital for an MRI, which revealed a torn ACL. A surgery date has not yet been determined.
The Celtics, however, were able to end a season-long six-game losing streak in receiving 24 points and 11 rebounds from Kevin Garnett. Jason Terry and Jeff Green added 13 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench in the victory.
"We'll find someone that's already in our locker room who will step up," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers on how they will succeed without Rondo. "You can write the obituary but I'm not. We're going nowhere."
LeBron James totaled 34 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists for the Heat, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. Chris Bosh followed with 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Dwyane Wade added 17 points and seven assists in Miami's 10th straight loss at TD Garden.
In his first game back in Boston since leaving the Celtics this past summer for Miami, Allen received a mixed reaction from the crowd during a video tribute upon his entrance, but scored 21 points off the bench on 7-of-17 shooting for the game.
"It was very weird. Going to the other locker room," said Allen on his return to the place he helped raise an NBA championship banner for in 2008. "The whole year has been an adjustment. I'll always be a Celtic in mind regardless of what anyone else says."
A closely contested contest throughout, Miami seemed to have the game in hand after James finished a three-point play with just over a minute remaining in the second overtime, staking the Heat to a 98-95 lead.
However, after a layup from Terry, Pierce put the Celtics on his back to carry them to victory.
After Wade missed a runner in the lane, Green outletted to Pierce, who drained a pull up jumper just inside the 3-point line to give Boston a 99-98 edge with 30 seconds remaining.
James could not answer at the other end, missing a stepback jumper as Pierce grabbed the rebound. After getting fouled, he sank the first free throw, but missed the second, keeping Boston's lead at 100-98.
With just seconds remaining, Shane Battier threw the inbounds pass to Wade following a timeout. Wade then passed it back to Battier at the top of the key, but he didn't get a great look and his long 3-point attempt misfired, clinching the Celtics' first victory in nearly two weeks.
Miami had to rally just to get to overtime, as they trailed by four with a minute remaining in regulation. Allen, who was booed every time he touched the ball, buried a triple from his usual spot in the corner to bring the Heat within 85-84 with just 25 seconds remaining.
After Terry sank a pair from the line, Allen got the same look from the corner with a chance to tie the game, but misfired on this attempt. However, James rose to the occasion and drained a long 3-pointer after grabbing Allen's miss, knotting the score at 87-87 before the contest went to overtime.
Allen and Garnett exchanged baskets to begin the extra session before James finished consecutive scores in the paint to stake the Heat to a 93-89 advantage with 1:59 left in overtime.
However, the Celtics rallied to tie the score at 93-93 following two baskets from Garnett. On their final possession of the first OT, James and Wade each got looks to try and win the game for the Heat, but both misfired before Miami succumbed to defeat in the second extra session.